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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 74 April 2002

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 74  April 2002
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions

"Dear Parlimentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings. wrote:

        Hi - I have a question which I don't know how to handle and would like some advice.
        In our group the Amenities Chairman is an Elected office position. A young lady was approached last Sept. to see if she would like the position - she said yes . She was nominated in November and then we voted for the officers
        in January. In March we had our installation of officers. The young lady has not attended one meeting since last September!! Our outgoing President has called her many times and each time the young lady says she will be there and then never shows up. She did not show up at her installation of all our officers.
        Question? We would like to replace the young lady as she is not fulfilling her job as the Amenities person. The job description in our Constitution is (The Amenities Chairman shall be responsible for coordinating
        meals and refreshments for Organization activities and events as set by the Executive Board).
        Since an Elected office can only be held for two terms and we did have a lady who previously wanted to be the Amenities Chairman for longer than the required two years -our Board had been working on changing this Amenities
        Chairmanship to be an Appointed position instead of an Elected position.
        Note: As of our last meeting our club has made this position an appointed position instead of the Elected position - BUT there still is the problem of the lady being elected - even though she is NOT doing her job so far.
        I am now the new President - and I feel that we should send the young lady a letter stating that we are replacing her as she has not fulfilled her obligations as our Amenities Chairman. I wanted to know if this would be the
        correct procedure - AND also would it have to be voted on to remove her from office?
        The other lady is filling the position for now - until we get the problem resolved.

        Thank you
        Gwen Streit
        Porcelain Artists of California

Dear Gwen,
    Here might be a very simple solution to your problem.  Ask the person to resign and submit it in writing.  This is the simplest way and perhaps the kindest way to handle the problem. Once the resignation is accepted then you can fill the vacancy.  If this doesn't work, then I will need more information about this situation.
    1.  When was the bylaw changed?
     2.   When was the person elected to office and when was the term to expire?  Does it say anything about "or until the successor is elected?"
      3.  What do your bylaws state about removal from an elected position?
    4.  Do your bylaws state anything about a person who doesn't do her duty or is absent for so many meetings?  Some bylaws include a provision if the person holding the office misses so many meetings and the excuse isn't valid or acceptable to the organization, then the board can vote to declare a vacancy by a two thirds vote.  You might consider adding this to your bylaws.

Parliamentarian wrote:

        Dear Parliamentarian- We had our meeting today. I was planning on talking about the
        letter of resignation when in walks the young lady!! First time she has been
        to the club since last September. She asked if she could sit next to me - and
        I said of course. I don't think she knew who I was as she has not attended
        any meetings. So here I am - planning of discussing a letter of resignation
        and the young lady is sitting next to me - now knowing about what we were
        going to discuss!!!
        I started the meeting and when I got down to the Amenities - which she is
        supposed to be chairman of - I smiled at her and asked her if she wants to be
        our Amenities Chairman - and if she does not feel that she can hande the job
        at this time or has any problems handling the job - we would understand. She
        said No - she would like to try. So with the outgoing Board members and the
        Incoming Board Members we all discussed how we could help her. We made
        arrangements for other people to help her and she sounded enthusiastic - so
        we are going to try it for awhile. This way - by asking other people to help
        her - like storing the supplies and coffee pot - if she does not show up we
        will still have coffee!!! Sounds like a small item - but to me if you are
        taking on a job - you need to cover it. I HATED to have to think that we
        would have had to write her a letter and we may still have to down the line -
        but for now - she said she will show up.
        I told her that I will send her a list tonight showing all our dates for
        the General Meetings, Board Meetings, Seminars and Workshops and any other
        event that she will have to set up. We also put a list of names in each
        month's newsletter for people who volunteer to bring refreshments.
        We have a great club - and everyone helps everyone else - and hopefully
        she will realize this and become a part of our "working" group.
        Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
        After the meeting - I looked at my Secretary and I said "I thought you
        said I wouldn't have any stress if I took the job!!" She just laughed. I
        just finished being the President for two years of a very large china
        painting group - 250 members and we put on a show every year - and I was
        under a lot of stress. I was planning on "resting" for a year or two Ha Ha.
        But the smaller group really needed someone to be President so I saidd yes to
        them and besides that - they are my favorite group.
        Thanks again
        Gwen Streit

Dear Gwen,
    Thank you for sharing what happened!  And you certainly did the right thing.  Isn't it amazing how things work out?  Now may I suggest that you stop stressing and  let the logic of events take their rightful course in all that you do this year.  At the basis of  parliamentary procedure are some very fundamental principles--one is what you did.  That of impartiality and brotherly love--do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  By offering her help and working with her you have just gained a member, and perhaps a friend.  
    What I find interesting is that in organizations people complain about other people, but very seldom do they go to this person and ask what is going on in his or her life.  You have done something that I often recommend, ask how the person assigned a task can be helped to do the task.  Often the person doesn't do it because he or she doesn't know how to do it.  Or he or she needs help in doing it.  In organizations it is not a one man band.  The reason we organization is so that many of us can work together for good and accomplish what one person can't alone do.  As president, be sure that you too ask for help and co-operation from the rest of the members.  As a group that is of one accord, you will accomplish much.  
Best wishes to you and your group.  If we can be of further help let us know.


jnmbonner wrote:

        "If you have a problem, e-mail us with your problem and we’ll try to help" ...these words were music to my ears.  This is our challenge:


        Our neighborhood originally had a homeowner's association which is no longer active.  Several neighbors remember it's existance, and it is recorded in each homeowner's deed.  The best I can tell, it became inactive due to disagreements within the leadership and a lack of interest in staying the course. We live in High Country Estates of Seguin, Texas- a sub-division outside the city limits, which began development about 20 years ago.


        Fast forward 10 (?) years later, and there is now a growing interest and need to reestablish the association.  Several homes flooded last August--the problem is linked to improper maintenance of drainage easements.  In several cases they have been completely filled in as new developments have taken place; in other situations, they have simply not been maintained.  It was also determined that driveway culverts did not meet current code and without correction, the roadside drainage easements (even if maintained) would not be effective.  Interior water damage in 5 homes was minimal, but problematic none the less, and a far greater number of homeowners had other drainage issues such as standing water, water flowing into pools, etc.


        Initially, around 25 homeowners came together to discuss and address this issue.  We were one of the homeowners who had water in part of our house, thus highly vested in understanding and correcting the problem.  With prayer and through a series of meetings we were amazed to see how much impact a cohesive group of homeowners can make.  At this point, the homebuilder responsible for the new developments has contracted and paid for a water survey to identify both the problems and recommended improvements.  We involved our County Commissioner, Engineer and Attorney  in each of our meetings, and with the assistance of our Commisioner, went before Commisioners Court and received approval to  correct, at their expense, several of the existing problems.  The most problematic driveway culverts have been repaired and the 1st phase of roadside drainage easement corrections have been made per the survey recommendations.  To make the remaining improvements and to protect future drainage easements, individual homeowners must now participate in dedicating drainage easements for this purpose.  I should point out that each lot is approx. 1 acre, but several of the lots in the newest portion of the neighborhood have a drainage creek in their back yard which must remain clean and open for the neighborhood drainage plan to work.


        Obviously there are many reasons to reinstate our HOA, but this is the issue that really got the ball rolling.  I'm assuming there is law governing this in the Texas State Code.  Initially, I was hoping that my internet search might lead me to this or an article on "How to start a Homeowners' Association"...any direction you might give, would be helpful!  I also assume we will need the services of an attorney throughout this process...and that we looking for someone specializing in real estate law.  Correct?  I anticipate speaking with our County Attorney this week in hopes that he can point me in the right direction...just waiting on a return phone call at this point.   I also hope to find a copy of the old bylaws, etc. but as of now have no leads on that information.


        We have invited a few neighbors to be part of a committe to research this and help see it to fruition.  My husband and I share your commitment of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, as well as your commitment to proceeding in an orderly and effective manner.  I have a background in continuous quality improment projects and teambuilding, so would be very interested in the resources you used to establish a code of cooperation/rules of order among your leaders and members.  Any advise you might provide would be immensely helpful!.   For curiosity's sake, I'd also be interested in more information specific to "Robert McConnell Productions."


        Thanks, in advance, for any information you are able to share.


        Mendi Bonner

Dear Mendi,
    Thank you for writing us.  We are happy to help.  First,  contact the secretary of state in Texas and ask if they have the original documents for your association on file.  I am sure they do.  Then ask for a copy of this.  Our association went defunct because of lack of interest.  The people who re-instated it contacted an attorney who specializes in Homeowner Associations.  This is an actually specialty.  Look in your yellow pages for this kind of attorney.  A Real Estate attorney is not good enough.  You need to find one that specializes in this work.  Ask some other Homeowner or Condo Associations for the name of their attorneys.  Another way to find someone is to call a real estate management firm and ask them if they manage condo or homeowner associations, if they do ask them for the name of a good attorney in this field.  
    Since you were once incorporated, the attorney may only need to get you re-instated.  That is what happened with our organization.  If  you don't have a record of the bylaws, the Secretary of State should have a copy of that with the original incorporation papers.  If not, the attorney can draw those up for you too.  But do your own research about what should be in the bylaws.  This is very important how your board is set up.
    Now, about our company.  You can go to our web site <> and find a lot of information about meeting procedures, bylaws, minutes, etc.  We specialize in writing books, videos, and articles about parliamentary procedure, (Robert's  Rules and other books on this subject).  We also answer questions such as yours.



The Glynns's wrote:


        If a motion has been made, seconded, debated, and then voted upon, can the person who made the motion then rescind the motion if the result of the vote did not go their way?

        Thank you,

        Joyce Glynn

        Dear Joyce:
        If the motion was adopted, the person who introduced it can do one of three things:
        1.  Move to rescind the motion.  This can be done at any time in future meetings but not in the same meeting where the motion was passed.
        2.  Move to amend the motion previously adopted. (But he has to wait until the next meeting to move this).
        3.  Move to reconsider the motion. (For this he has to be one who voted on the prevailing side and move to reconsider on the same day or the next day after the vote was taken).
        These are the only ways he can try to reverse the motion he originally sponsored.
        If the motion was not adopted, he can reintroduce it at the next meeting and try to get it adopted then..
        The Parliamentarian

        Dear Parliamentarian,

        Is there a need for the assembly to vote to accept the
        treasurer's report? This is not the auditor's report.
        Our parliamentarian concedes that it is not necessary;
        however, he says it is okay to do it. What do you say?
        Thanks in advance for your answer.

        Nathaniel Speight

Dear Nathan:
The Treasurer's report is presented to the assembly and then FILED by the Secretary.  Later an Auditor's Committe audits the report and presents its findings to the assembly.  Then the assembly votes to approve (or not to approve)  the auditor's report.
The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian

        When making nominations for delegates to a convention, can a member of the organization nominate herself?

Keywana Thomas

        Dear Keywana:

        Yes, you can nominate yourself if you are a member of the nominating committee.

         You can, as a member, also nominate yourself from the floor.  

        The Parliamentarian


Nathaniel Speight wrote:

        Dear Parliamentarian,
        The chairman of our organization limits debate on
        motions by doing the following: After he states that
        it has been moved and properly seconded that [the
        motion to ....]. He then says, "You have heard the
        motion, are you ready for the question? (the people
        who want to debate the issue say "question")" The
        chairman then says that he will only recognize those
        persons who said question. Those are the only ones who
        can participate in the debate. Is this in accordance
        with Robert's Rule of Order? The organization has not
        adopted any rules governing debate. I thank you for
        your answer.

        Nathaniel Speight

        Dear Nathaniel,
            Your chair's procedure is absolutely incorrect.   The correct way for the chair to present a motion to the assembly is to state the motion:  "It is moved and seconded to ......Is there any discussion?  Or "Are you ready for the question?"   The member that made the motion has the first right to discussion the motion.  No one has to yell out "question" to discuss it.  If a member wants to discuss the motion, he rises, addresses the chair  "Mr. President, "  waits for recognition and then begins to state his reasons for or against the motion. This is standard procedure under ANY  parliamentary authority, not just Robert's Rules.  Why don't you suggest that your president get a book on conducting meetings, or perhaps our video on "Conducting Meetings" or "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple" to help with the presentation of motions?

         The Parliamentarian

Hankerson Sidney H Jr DLVA wrote:

        I understand that you answer questions regarding the subject via e-mail.
        I would appreciate receiving your response to the following question

        Per Roberts, "In the debate each member has the right to speak twice on the same question on the same day (except on an appeal), but cannot make a second speech on the same question as long as any member who has not spoken on that question desires the floor."

        After stating the question, and asking the assembly "Are you ready for the question", is it acceptable for the chair to ask for all that wish to debate the question to raise their hands (or in a large assembly, to rise and proceed
        to centrally located microphones, or some other way of identifying one's intent), and then to limit the debate to only those individuals?
        Thanking you in advance for providing a prompt reply.

        Sid Hankerson

        Dear Sidney,
            The chair never has the right to limit or close debate only members can do that through a motion.  The proper procedure for handling a motion is this:
            1. The member rises, address the chair, by saying,  Mr. President or Mr. Chairman, Madam President, or Madam chairman.
            2.  The chair then assigns the floor by stating the member's name or nodding at him/her
            3.  The member now has the right to speak -- present a motion or if a motion is pending to speak in debate.  If it is to make a motion the member, then says, I move that we do such and such.  Then sits down.
            4.  Another member seconds the motion by calling out "second" from where he or she is seated.
             5.  The presiding officer then places the motion to the assembly for debate or discussion.  The chair states:  "It is moved and seconded that we do such and such. Is there any discussion?"  (or the chair can state "Are you ready for the question?")  (We prefer the former because the members understand that better than asking are you ready for the question.)
            6.  At this time, the member making the motion has the first right to speak to the motion.  He should not call out "question" (this usually means close debate--not I want to discuss it).  He needs to rise, address the chair and be assigned the floor to speak to the motion.  After he is done, he sits down and another member can not discuss the motion.  He too must rise, address the chair, and be assigned the floor.  In large assemblies, the members must go to the microphone.  But each member has the right to speak until the assembly votes to stop debate or limit debate.  This is a subsidiary motion. It needs to be made formally.  It needs a second, and it takes a two thirds vote to adopt.  This must be by a rising vote.

        May I recommend that you purchase our video "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple: The Basics" .  This entire procedure about making motions, handling discussion, closing debate and taking and announcing the vote is thoroughly handled on this video.  
            If you are the presiding officer in this organization you have a duty and obligation to the members to know the complete rules of assigning the floor, seeing that everyone who wants to speak is allowed to speak, and to see that the rules of debate are fairly enforce.  
            If you need to know where to find these rules in Robert's Rules of order, here are the pages in the official book Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed.  pp.  26 -51; 183- 201;364-386.
            If you need to know more about conducting meetings, visit our WEb Site <>.  There is also a bookstore in which you can purchase videos and books on this subject.
            If we can be of further help, please write.

        The Parliamentarian

        PS.  Organizations can adopt different rules of debate and handling motions.  These rules are called "Rules of Order".  They need previous notice to the membership and take a two-thirds vote to adopt.  

Hankerson Sidney H Jr DLVA wrote:

        I thank you for your answer.  I had not viewed my actions as illegal, only efficient.  I stand corrected.



        Dear Sidney,
            Most mistakes made in meetings are because people do not knowing the right procedure.  I am sure that now that you know the correct way, you will do it, and your members will be very happy for this change.  If you want to have more efficient meetings,  there is an article on the WEb Site that I mentioned earlier about "how to make your meetings go more smoothly".  

        The Parliamentarian

        Dear Parliamentarian,
        What are the rules regarding PTO meetings, for parents who no longer have their child at our school.  Our constitution states that all parents who have children attending our school are considered PTO members.  Recently, a parent removed their child from our school.  The parent would like to attend our PTO meeting and discuss her issue ( why the child was removed from our school).  Does Robert's Rules of Order have any rulings on this?  Can a parent w/o a child at our school attend and discuss at our PTO meetings?
        Thank you



Dear Kathy,
    Some organizations allow non members to attend their meetings.  However, this does not give them the privilege of  speaking unless the members allow a time for them to speak.  Perhaps what this member has to say about school policy is relevant to what the PTO is doing.  Why not ask this person what the substance of the remarks are going to be?  Then the let the officers (or your executive board if you have one) decide if it is relevant.  It could come up under welfare of the organization at the end of the meeting.  The basis for the decision on this should be "does this information concern the safety and welfare of our children?"  and can we as a PTO do anything about it once we receive the information?"    If it is just personal dissatisfaction with policies or a personality conflict with the teachers or administrators then I wouldn't get into the middle of a fight nor would I allow it to come up at a meeting.  In fact the more I think about it, I would have it presented at a board meeting first to see what it is all about.  Once you have discovered what it is then proceed carefully.  

The Parliamentarian wrote:

        On page 314 of the book, the issue is addressed referring to a member of the board. What happens when a member of the organization will directly benefit (cash-in-hand) from a motion? Should the member exclude himself from the vote?

        i.e. The PTO wishes to help an academic group of elementary school students and their coaches get to "global" competition. A parent of one of the
        children is on the PTO Executive Board. This parent does not participate in discussion or voting, however, parents of other students on the team who are only members of the PTO not only discuss but vote to award these students
        with a cash gift. This money will help off set costs in travel, hotel, meals etc. It almost completely covers the airfare for the group of ten. Don't the parents of these students have a conflict of interest? and shouldn't they as well disqualify themselves from the vote? Thanks for any input.

        Lois Venta e-mail
        Thank you again.



I'm sorry I didn't include all the info. Webster's New World - Robert's Rules of Order - simplified and applied. After further studying, on page 75 the issue is addressed as well. But the answer also leaves me a bit confused when it says no one else. The example I posed refers to a number of families (7) when there are at least several hundred families in the membership.

Thanks for any feedback. Lois


Dear Lois,
    In this case,  since there are seven members involved, I would like to know how many other people will be present at the meeting.  If there are a hundred people that are going to vote,  I would say that it could go either way--yes, they could vote or no they can't vote.  But  if there are going to be a small group present and these seven members could really sway the vote, then I think they should not vote.  In the official book,  Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th edition, it now states this on page 394. "No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other member sof the organization....However, no member can be compelled to refrain from voting in such circumstances."  

The Parliamentarian

Kevin wrote:

        I am writing concerning the Student Body Elections at a local university.
        The case involves the results of the elections. The student body constitution states that the winner must have 50% +1 of those who vote for president/vp. The ballot contains boxes for the pres/vp candidates, one box
        for "ABSTAIN" and one for "Write-in". The ballot also has boxes for senators/borad of director but it does not pertain to this case. The issue is this: The votes were counted but the abstain votes were thrown out of
        the total number voted. In summary, the abstain votes were treated as no votes at all. Keep in mind that there were over 200 students who decided not to bubble in any boxes and yet voted for other items on the ballot (senators, etc.) and 55 students voted to abstain. Our question is: Is it legal for the "Abstain" votes to be thrown out of total number voted. We have adopted Robert's Rules and our constitution states that we follows the laws of California and the State laws state that all votes count. Please

        Thank you,
        Kevin Mojaradi

Dear Kevin,
    Unless your documents state the majority of those present and voting, or of the embership, then abstentions are considered non-votes.  You can't make people vote.  So don't worry about it.  You have a record of these votes or abstentions if anyone challenges.

The Parliamentarian

Dear Patrick,
    Thank you for writing and bringing us your concerns.  You needn’t be shocked about our statement. We were being honest. We wanted readers to know that this was not an exact simplification of the standard parliamentary authority. That way if they found discrepancies they were forewarned. Our goal at this company is to make the information in the latest editions of Robert’s Rules easy to understand. The writers of these latter editions of Robert’s Rules are attorneys and have the tendency to make things more complicated and hard to understand. Of the changes that we didn’t put in, we asked: Does this change really affect a motion or basic parliamentary principles. For example, in the 10th edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised it says this about the motion "previous question", and reconsideration of the vote on this motion. "Can be reconsidered before any vote has been taken under the order of the Previous Question, but (in contrast to the motion to Limit or Extend the Limits of Debate) it cannot be reconsidered after the order has been partly executed; see also pages 197-98. A negative vote on the motion for Previous Question can be reconsidered only until such time as it has become essentially a new question –that is, if it is reasonable to assume that debate or action on any of the motions involved may have made more members desire to vote immediately on some or all of the question still pending. Thereafter, it can be renewed." This explanation is new to the book. But we kept the old explanation: (see page 102) "Can reconsider without debate before the vote has been taken on the motion in which debate has been closed. If the members vote against this motion, it can be made again after progress in the debate." Now which is easier to understand?

  Now we did choose to differ with a major change that the authors made in the 10th edition. You will find this on page 106, #1 about "motions that are not in order."  This change we could not in good conscience make in our book. The change was something we believe is in conflict with every principle Henry Robert wrote about respect of obeying the law.  You will find a drastic change between the 9th edition and the 10th edition concerning when a motion is not in order.
    In the 9th edition on page 108 it states under
"Main motions that are not in order.
   "No main motion is in order which conflicts with national, state, or local law, or with the bylaws (or constitution) or rule of the organization or assembly.  If such a motion is adopted, even by a unanimous vote it is null and void."
    This is in complete agreement with Henry Robert in his book "Parliamentary Law" which he states on page 9.  "A main motion, or any amendment thereto, must not be in violation of national or state laws, or in conflict with the constitution, the by-laws, or other standing rules or resolutions of the assembly.  If it so conflicts and is adopted, it is null and void."
    Now in the 10th edition on page 106, "Main Motions that are not in order" it states,
    "No main motion is in order that conflicts with the bylaws (or constitution) or rules of the organization or assembly, and to the extent that procedural rules applicable to the organization or assembly are prescribed by federal, state, or local law, no main motion is in order that conflicts with such rules."
    Now this fundamental change means that an organization can adopt a motion that conflicts with the laws of the land.  But if it conflicts with parliamentary law in the state laws then it is not in order.  So let's say that a group wants to build something.  They could adopt a motion that conflicts with building codes.  But in giving notice to their meeting they could not conflict with state laws that set the minimum times to give notice. (that is if they are incorporated) You can see where this could lead to a lot of trouble.  The reasoning that the authors gave for this change was to allow groups to do civil disobedience.  Our feeling was that if a group was going to do civil disobedience then they don't need something in Robert's to allow them to do it.  They will do it anyway.  We also felt that this was an arbitrary change that the committee revising the book made. So we decided to stay with what Henry Robert originally wrote.  Perhaps if they consulted with others on this they might not have made the change.
    Our book has never been to replace the official book but to explain many of its principles.  The other point we felt strongly about was keeping "Madam Chairman" instead of "chairperson".  The new edition of Robert's makes an allowance for that. We feel this is unnecessary political correctness.  The new book also introducing a concept of "standing at ease" which we felt was unnecessary because parliamentary organizations are not the army.  
    What you must realize is that the basics of Robert's do not change.  We did add new information from the new edition about resignations and many other things.  The big contention is what we mentioned first about the law.  We also have something in our book that the 10th edition addresses but does not give any procedure for and that is the motion to censure.  After careful research we came up with the procedure for that which is included in our book. We want to assure you that everything in our book is carefully researched, and has parliamentary principles to back it up.
    It is up to you whether you want to recommend it to others. But I am sure if you read the 10th edition and then read ours you will see that there is very little difference.  Our book again is for beginners and intermediate people.  Most organizations never have a need for all that is in the official book.  We have included in our book what the people want to know.  We get hundred's of questions each year by phone and e-mail about organizational problems.  It is from these questions that we write our book and our videos.  We are trying to meet the actually needs of organizations, and still keep the information accurate, versus writing a parliamentary authority.  You will also find in our book practical applications of many of the procedures.  That is why our book is called "simplified and applied."  
    I hope this answers your questions.

 Robert McConnell Productions

Patrick wrote:

        I looked at the introduction to the second edition of "Webster's  New World Robert's Rules of  Order" and was SHOCKED  to see the following line. "In carefully reviewing the 10th edition of Robert's Rules of Order,Newly Revised", we have decided NOT to change our book to some of their changes.The reason is that the changes made in the 10th edition have made procedures more complicated and our desire is 'to keep it simple'"  My question is indeed simple. How can you offer a "simplified and applied" explanation of Robert's Rules of Order which DISREGARDS changes/updates in the book that your book is based on?

        I was starting to read this book and wanted to recommend it to people I know but am hesitant given the above concern.

        Thanks for your anticipated response.

        Patrick Oslo
        Member of Toastmasters International. wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian

        Is there a set of basic bylaws which can be used for both non-profit and for-profit. If so, where can I obtain a copy?

Dear Writer,

There is a guide for what goes into bylaws that you can find in the book  Robert's Rules of Order Simplified and Applied,  and the book Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th editon.  Are you going to incorporate?  Or are you already incorporated?  If so, depending on which state you are incorporated in, then the state laws tell you what have to be in your bylaws.  It is important to write bylaws to fit your organizations need.  Canned bylaws don't work.  If you need help writing bylaws let us know. wrote:

Dear Parliamentarian,

        yes, on the meetings. And basic rules which the board can govern by. Also, will the rules be able to be modified to suit organization.

Dear Writer,

What I recommend is that you get a simplified book on Robert's Rules to help you with your organization.  
    In conducting board meetings for members under twelve members the following are the basic rules:
    1.  Use an agenda
    2.   Members do not have to rise to obtain the floor or to make a motion
    3.  Motions do not need to be seconded.
    4.  There can be informal discussion without a motion on the floor.
    5.  In some cases when the discussion is perfectly clear to all members a vote can be taken without a motion being made.  (However, I am a firm believer in having the discussion in the form of a motion before the vote is taken so that everyone knows specifically what they are voting on.  This could be done by the chairman summing up the remarks and saying is this what we are agreeing to vote on.  I have found too often that people vote on something without a motion, and then at the next meeting when the secretary reads back the minutes, the members say, "We didn't vote on that" or "that is not what we meant."  so if it is worded in the motion everyone knows what they are voting on.)
    6.  The chair doesn't have to rise when putting a motion to a vote.
    7.   The chairman can make motions, discuss and vote without leaving the chair.  (Unless the members have adopted rules to the contrary.  Some organizations say that  the chair can only break a tie vote.)
Hope this helps.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

        Dear Parliamentarian -

        Please explain in detail the duties and responsibilities of the Vice President.  What is a program as referred to in many parliamentary procedure readings?  Other than taking over for the President, it appears the VP does very little.  I am currently the VP for a very disorganized association, so I have decided to take the lead in bringing order and direction to our meeting and moving in the right direction.  Please advise.


        Dear Charlie,
            According to Robert's Rules of Order the vice-president fills in when the president is absent.  Other duties are assigned to this office in the bylaws.  In some organization the vice-president has been assigned a lot of duties.  In other organizations, the VP is to just be a back up man and that is all. What I recommend is that you look at your bylaws and see what it says.  If you see more that this person could do, then write this up and amend your bylaws.
             A program is another name for an agenda--the order of a business meeting.  I congratulate you in wanting to bring order in your meetings.  If you need training materials for your organization please visit our online bookstore, we have videos and books and other materials that are helpful.  See <>, and then go to bookstore.

        The Parliamentarian


        Dear Parliamentarian:

         I hold an elected office to an executive board. I am being considered for ratification for another position on the same board. I would hold both offices simultaneously. There is nothing in the by-laws addressing this situation. Would I get two votes?


Dear Joan,
    You would still have one vote unless the bylaws or some other law states that you could have two votes.  

The Parliamentarian wrote:

        What are the rules for producing minutes to reflect "Unanimous Consent"?

Dear Jo-Ann,
    All that you have to say is the motion was adopted by unanimous consent.

The Parliamentarian

pat m wade wrote:

        Dear Sir,

        Could you please send me information about your video. Also, please send the free report mentioned at your web site. I am interested in how to conduct business meetings at our church in accordance with Robert's Rule
        of Order. We have informed people in our congregation, but I have gotten different answers to certain questions regarding the process. In particular, when a member "calls for the question" and others want to continue to debate the motion, what is the proper way to proceed?
        Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Dear Larkin,
    You might find our video "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple:  The Basics"  most helpful for your organization.  For information about it, see the web site <>. Scroll down to "Visit  OUr Book store", then click on the link that says "Parliamentary Procedure Made Simple".  It will tell you want is in the video including answering your question about "call for the question".  Usually when someone yells this out it means, I'm tired and lets take the vote on go on.  However,  one person can't stop debate.  The best policy is to ignore the member who is calling out "question".  If they do it a second time, look at the person and ask, "Does the member want to close debate?"   If the person answers "yes", then say, the member must make a motion to do so.   this motion needs a second, and the presiding officer, then puts it to a vote, "All those in favor of closing debate, please rise.  (be seated)  those opposed please rise.  Be seated."   (This motion takes a two thirds vote.  That is why it is rising vote.)  If there are two thirds in the affirmative, the chair says,  "there are two thirds in the affirmative.  The motion to close debate is adopted. The question is  on the motion to....All those in favor say "aye.  Those opposed say "no".  Then announce the vote.  It always takes a vote to close debate.  The best thing to do is keep asking for discussion and taking it until someone actually makes the motion to close debate.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

        I have a slate of officers that I wish to present to our membership of a very small local club. How do I conduct the voice vote? Do you ask if there are any nominations from the floor three times? Thanks for your help.

Dear Barnan,
    The nominating committee presents the slate.  Then the chair asks for nominations for each office.  If there are no other nominations the chair then says.  "We will now take the vote on the nominees.  Member A has been nominated for president. All in favor of electing member A president, say "aye". Those oppose say  "no".  Then announce the vote.  The ayes have it and member A is elected president."  Then state the Member B has been nominated for Vice -President.  All those in favor of Member B for vice president say "aye'.  Those opposed say no.  Then announce the vote.  Just continue thise process until finished.  We have a very good video about "Nominations and Elections".  This will take you step by step through the process.  Your organization may want to purchase it.  For information, see our bookstore, on <>,  Another thing you can do is request that your public library buy it.

The Parliamentarian wrote:

        Dear Parliamentarian: I was appointed to a position by the Chairman Because another Board Member declined the position. When I went to fulfill the duty, I was told by acting Executive Director that the declining Board Member had changed her mind and I was not permitted to fulfill my appointed position. The Director said the Chairman was aware of the change. The appointment was made in a regular scheduled meeting. The switch or change was made outside of the meeting at a later time. I was not informed of the change. I notified the Chairman who said he was contacted but unsure of what was being communicated to him, but he was aware of the change. I feel I was conspired against. I have not given up my acceptance. What recourse do I have. Sincerely, A Humiliated Board Member.....My email address is L. Davis

Dear Connie,
    You said the appointment was made at a  meeting.  What kind of a meeting--membership meeting or assembly meeting?  Is there a record of it in the minutes?  

The Parliamentarian

Dear Parliamentarian

Thanks so m ch for answering. The decision (my appointment) was made in a regularly scheduled Board Meeting and yes it is recorded in the minutes. You see one Board Member had decided not to accept this task. So the Chairman then appointed me .A few days later outside of the meeting, this same member changed her mind, got with the Director Staff person and the two of them decided that she would accept after all. The Chairman was notified  (outside of the meeting) of this "switch." I feel as though all three conspired against me. Can the Chairman unseat me without just cause? Our rules state we are to follow Robert's Rule of Order. Thanks



Dear Connie,
    If the President wants to change his mind, then he needs to do it at a board meeting. He must state that he is rescinding his appointment and appointing the other member.  This must be recorded in the minutes.  If I were you, I would go to the chairman and talk with him/her about this. Perhaps you can awake this chairman to the unfairness of the situation.  This is a terrible thing to do to members willing to serve.  If this continues the organization will find members leaving the organization.  
    What the chairman should have done was say to the other,  "I realize that you have changed your mind, but we have already made the appointment.  Is  there another committee that you would like to serve on?"  Or perhaps, the chairman could say, "There's always next year."   It is very selfish of this member to do this, and it is out of line for the staff person to co-operate.  It is the chairman that makes the appointments and not the staff person.  
    It looks like you have some big problems in this organization.  However,  since the chair has the power to appoint committees, he /she also has the right to remove committees. But it is to be done in a board meeting and not outside the meeting.  It must be recorded in the minutes.  I like to see boards appoint committees myself.  I think that is more democratic.

The Parliamentarian

Bob Nelson wrote:

        What should be done for minutes if a meeting lacking a quorum is held and several reports are given?  This organization is to be run by Sturgis Rules of Order.  Our last meeting lacked a quorum but we had several reports from guests and felt we needed to proceed, notes were taken just as minutes but no action was taken.  At the next meeting we approved the notes from the quorum lacking meeting and included them with the minutes of the present meeting to have a record of the reports from our guests. How should this have been handled?  

        Bob Nelson


         Dear Bob,
            The way that you handled it was the best that you could do under the circumstances described

        The Parliamentarian wrote:

        Dear Parliamentarian:

        Thanks so much for helping me sift through this problem. Perhaps one of the most helpful insights was your agreement that this was a terrible act. At any rate we were on the same wave length and I think I alluded to the Chair that he would have to rescind his appointment of a board meeting. I shall get on with my life. Thanks again.  


Dear Connie,
    Working in organizations is  very challenging especially when the members are not following the Golden Rule--"do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  If we all lived by this there would be less problems in the world.
    I wish you well.  I am sure there will be some good that comes out of this.

The Parliamentarian

Charline Hooper wrote:

        I have ordered the 2001 edition, but need help in the interim. I'm wondering if you can clarify this motion for me. I'm a member of local government. Some motions are defeated at the Committee of Whole (COW) meeting, and are sent by staff to Council meetings for Council direction. I'm wondering what Robert's Rules of Order procedure states for this item. The staff feel defeated motions go to Council meeting for Council decisions or further direction to staff.. Other times our practice is for Council to give direction at the COW meeting. Does it sound confusing to you? I know I am.

        The Local Government Act indicates that Council meetings are the only meeting where decisions are made. My thoughts are a defeated motion does not move ahead as there is no motion to bring to Council meetings. Any further direction should be done as a separate motion to Council. Any help would be beneficial.
        Charline Hooper

Dear Charline,
    Since this is a local government, the rules might be a little different that a regular organization.  Perhaps the best thing to do is to present a report of the business that the committee has been discussing and voting on.  State what motions have been defeated, and what motions have been adopted.  If you are keeping minutes of your meetings, which you should be doing, all main motions that are adopted or defeated are recorded in the minutes.  I would have to know more about the organization before giving an opinion on this one.  
    Perhaps the reason defeated motions go to the Council and staff  is to let them know what business is being presented, discussed and voted upon.  Maybe a staff member or council member is interested in some item and  by knowing that it is defeated at the Committee level, realizes that there is not enough interest to pursue it.  Just some things to think about.

The Parliamentarian

Kathleen Ramsay wrote:

        Thank you for any assistance you can offer.
        In February the nominating committee made their report and included President, President-Elect, Secretaries and Treasurer, and Assistant Treasurer. There were no nominations from the floor.

        The bylaws state that elections are to be held in March and also that if there are no nominations from the floor, the Recording Secretary may cast the election vote.

        At the March meeting there was not a quorum and further the Recording Secretary did not take advantage of they bylaw allowing her to vote.

        At the April meeting, a member of the nominating committee, in the absence of the chairman of the nominating committee, informed the assembled that she had received two phone calls asking that a written ballot be used and not a
        show of hands. A motion was made for the written ballot, seconded and the motion passed.

        A ballot was then passed out including the name of the president nominee (currently serving as president elect), a new president elect, Secretaries, Treasurer and they left off the Assistant Treasurer who was simply written
        in by those voting.

        After the ballots were counted neither the President nor the president-elect were elected but the rest of the slate was. The nominating committee p